The proverbial dam blocking the Dallas Cowboys in free agency has finally broken and the team is now bracing for the potential rush of three new players.
Two are pretty much secured.
The Cowboys signed former Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris to a two-year, $3.5 million deal Tuesday, per his agent Sean Stellato. He has a chance to earn up to $5.5 million with incentives.
The Oakland Raiders declined to match a three-year, $8.55 million offer sheet to restricted free agent defensive end Benson Mayowa, clearing the path for him to officially join the Cowboys on Wednesday.
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And the team is close to adding former San Diego Chargers cornerback Patrick Robinson. A three-year deal is only being held up by confusion regarding his representation, per a source.
Morris, a two-time Pro Bowler, gives the Cowboys a starting-caliber running back to pair with Darren McFadden.
In four seasons in Washington, Morris, 27, started all 64 games, rushing for 4,713 yards and 29 touchdowns on 1,078 attempts. Only Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings has rushed for more yards than Morris over the past four years.
He has been very good against the Cowboys, rushing 152 times for 710 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in eight career games.
Morris was best as a rookie in 2012, finishing with 1,613 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 335 carries. He had career lows last season with 202 carries for 751 yards and one touchdown, but he is still younger than McFadden, who turns 29 this summer.
Morris would give the Cowboys an option in case McFadden falls off from last year’s surprising season when he rushed for 1,089 yards and three touchdowns on 239 carries.
Most important, Morris gives Dallas another proven back in the team’s quest to get back to the run-dominant attack they were in 2014 when they finished second in the league in rushing.
Vice-president Stephen Jones said the Cowboys could still take a running back in upcoming NFL Draft.
The looming addition Mayowa helps the Cowboys address a huge need at defensive end.
With Randy Gregory facing a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season and Greg Hardy, Jack Crawford and Jeremy Mincey as unrestricted free agents, the Cowboys had no bodies and no depth at the position.
DeMarcus Lawrence, who is coming off back surgery, is the only proven performer under contract.
The Raiders had until Wednesday to match the offer sheet, but didn’t wait that long to make the decision. Oakland had given Mayowa the right-of-first refusal tender worth $1.671 million so they won’t receive any compensation from the Cowboys for Mayowa.
Mayowa has just two sacks and three starts the past three seasons for the Raiders. But he is just 24 years old and the Cowboys see him as a player on the rise.
The addition of Mayowa won’t prevent the Cowboys from targeting the position in the NFL Draft. Ohio State’s Joey Bosa has been projected by many to be taken by the Cowboys with the fourth overall pick.
A potential deal with Robinson could also seal the fate of cornerback Brandon Carr, who could be asked to take a pay cut or be cut for salary cap reasons.
Robinson is the third cornerback the Cowboys have had visit in free agency, joining Nolan Carroll and Leon Hall.
But he is first to sign.
Carroll eventually re-signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on a one-year deal for $3 million.
Hall came in last week on a visit, but left without a deal.
Robinson’s presence should crystallize things with Carr, who could be a salary cap casualty because of his $9.1 million base salary and $13.8 million cap hit.
Robinson started 10 games in 2015, recording 49 tackles and an interception. He had had eight pass deflections.
Carr hasn’t had an interception since 2013. He also had just six pass deflections in 2015.
Robinson gives the Cowboys’ veteran cornerback trio that includes Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick. The Cowboys would like to keep Carr because of the need have an abundance of cornerbacks, but only at a reduced price. He called the Cowboys bluff on a potential salary reduction last year.
This time they hold all the cards.